A psychologist, she lives in Belle Terre with her husband, Robert, and children, Liana, 8, and Nicholas, 3. 

When does pie-baking season heat up for you? I experiment year-round, but come summer, typically on a Friday night if you peeked in my kitchen, you'd see me pounding out pie dough. It's a self-challenge: How can I top the last pie? It's a little like life: How can I improve things? 

Why are you bent on improving your pies? Every year for the past several years my pies have won ribbons in the Sherwood-Jayne House apple pie bake-off. As part of the historical society in Setauket, they do a yearly apple festival with an apple pie bake-off. The last four years I've earned ribbons in the "top three" positions; this apple-caramel pie earned a second-place ribbon twice, with maybe 30 pies entered. 

Besides delicious desserts, what do you get out of pie-making? It's what this psychologist does for her therapy! I have many other things in my life, because I really believe in balance, but baking is one of my passionate hobbies.


For the dough:

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1½ cups flour

1½ teaspoons sugar

½ teaspoon salt

¼ cup cold butter

¼ cup vegetable shortening

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¼ cup cold water

7 candy caramels 

For the filling:

8 Golden Delicious apples,

peeled cored and sliced

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¼ cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1 tablespoon sugar

½ teaspoon cinnamon

1½ tablespoons cornstarch

½ teaspoon vanilla

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1 tablespoon lemon juice

10 candy caramels 

For caramel sauce:

15 candy caramels

1½ teaspoons water

1½ tablespoons butter 

For crumb topping:

1 cup flour

½ cup rolled oats

¼ teaspoon salt

1 stick butter

2/3 cup light brown sugar

½ teaspoon cinnamon

Pecan halves for garnish

1. Make pie dough: Place flour, sugar and salt in medium bowl and cut in butter and shortening until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add water bit by bit until the dough comes together into a ball. Chill, if necessary, then roll into a circle large enough to fit into an 8-inch pie plate; trim and/or crimp edges. Chill dough for at least 1 hour. Sprinkle chopped caramels in bottom of pie shell; refrigerate.

2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

3. Combine filling ingredients and toss well. Place in chilled pie shell; bake 30 minutes.

4. Make crumb topping: Combine flour, oats and salt in a food processor and mix to combine. Add butter gradually, pulsing until the mixture starts to come together; refrigerate.

5. Remove pie from oven and reduce temperature to 375 degrees. Evenly sprinkle crumb mixture on top of pie; return pie to oven and bake 30 to 40 minutes, until topping is golden brown.

7. Let pie cool 1 hour, then make caramel sauce: Gently melt ingredients in microwave for 1 minute. Drizzle pie with caramel topping and garnish with pecans. Makes 1 pie.